Thursday, 29 May 2014

Is WarThunder coming to Linux?

I've been musing about the future of many of the titles on Steam, and their progress in converting them to Linux; or more specifically the Steam OS.  Valve (the publishers behind Steam) are bit into providing technical talks and information to developers to help assist them in converting titles to OpenGL, so I've taken sometime to look at the games I have on Steam and which ones I'd like to see on Windows.

The first, and most recently played was "WarThunder", and after a little reading and a little looking, I spotted in the launcher the option to use "OpenGL"...

It looks promising therefore that Gaijin are porting the rendering engine to OpenGL, I even went as far as switching to OpenGL an firing up the game, my immediate feedback would be that where I was getting 60FPS+ and even 90 FPS in places, I was suddenly getting an average of 43FPS.  However, the OpenGL rendering is listed as "test" and one would assume its not optimized at all yet.

Performance changes aside it does look like Gaijin could have a Linux operable version soon... I just hope when they fix the annoying team text chat bug soon... What bug is this?  Well, when you crash, or die, you are presented the team chat box; and I often start to type into it information to pass onto my team where I went down, especially if I went down due to enemy fire... You can be midway through typing a message when the screen times out and changes from the view of the opponent who put you down to the "Select a plane" or "Observer" screen... This then re-presents the same (or an identical looking) team chat box, but it has wiped out the input you had just seconds before... This is a bug which has been in the game since I started playing, so it is a very annoying problem and one which either isn't getting reported, or isn't getting noticed and fixed.

Back to Gaijin's development model however, if we search for news or even output regarding their porting to Linux there's little initially to go on, in fact on an unbiased Google search this was the first result.

"At the moment only for Windows. About Mac and Linux we will see in the future."  A comment by a Gaijin Forum Administrator on the 28th July 2012.  So have things changed since then?  The launcher says they have... Pawing through the archives it also appears that OpenGL has been quietly present in the builds since early November 2013.

My question to Gaijin therefore would be, have they been forcing any test clients into OpenGL mode, have they been gathering information, or switching us players to OpenGL to gather rendering information?  Because, it is a setting in a solemn corner of the launcher, but so very important to us Linux-philes, for if they release this game for Linux then I'm down to only three titles needing Windows specifically, I could finally look at just playing their game on a native Linux platform...

Linux is not the first new platform they've targeted with the engine, you can now get the option from the website to download the Mac version of the game client, clearly the Mac version is going to leverage OpenGL, and indeed any Mac based players will be testing the formal OpenGL calls.  Unfortunately that doesn't test for quirks in Linux or Windows with their independent implementations of OpenGL.

Steam OS is also a very new kid on the distro block for Linux, so if they're going to target it surely they're going to also be able to give us tweaks to run it on standard Debian or Ubuntu distro's too.

Excitingly I've spoken to Gaijin, and had a reply from one Alexander Trifonov, his message is short and sweet:

"Linux/SteamOS, please wait a little more and there will be some news"

Thank you for your reply Alexander, we look forward to more news from you soon...

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